Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2013 Oct 14;8(10):e67864. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067864. eCollection 2013.

Determinants of the pace of global innovation in energy technologies.

Author information

  • 1Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States of America ; Theoretical Division T5, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, United States of America.

Abstract

Understanding the factors driving innovation in energy technologies is of critical importance to mitigating climate change and addressing other energy-related global challenges. Low levels of innovation, measured in terms of energy patent filings, were noted in the 1980s and 90s as an issue of concern and were attributed to limited investment in public and private research and development (R&D). Here we build a comprehensive global database of energy patents covering the period 1970-2009, which is unique in its temporal and geographical scope. Analysis of the data reveals a recent, marked departure from historical trends. A sharp increase in rates of patenting has occurred over the last decade, particularly in renewable technologies, despite continued low levels of R&D funding. To solve the puzzle of fast innovation despite modest R&D increases, we develop a model that explains the nonlinear response observed in the empirical data of technological innovation to various types of investment. The model reveals a regular relationship between patents, R&D funding, and growing markets across technologies, and accurately predicts patenting rates at different stages of technological maturity and market development. We show quantitatively how growing markets have formed a vital complement to public R&D in driving innovative activity. These two forms of investment have each leveraged the effect of the other in driving patenting trends over long periods of time.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk